The Deposit of Faith is limited to the words and actions of Jesus' historical life--is that correct? Only those things that He taught to his disciples and commanded them to pass on to others can be considered part of the Deposit of Faith--is that correct? There were no additions to the Deposit of Faith after Jesus' ascension--is that correct? After the Ascension, all we can is interpret the Deposit of Faith since public revelation has finished and there is no more revelation to come--is that correct? Those sound like different questions, but it's hard to put the whole question into one sentence! :)

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    Public revelation ends with the death of the last Apostle, and that is considered part of Deposit of Faith
    – eques
    Dec 4, 2023 at 21:21
  • An apostle can't add anything to what Jesus said in his human life, can he? So, essentially, the public revelation ended with Jesus' Ascension--correct? The apostles could only transmit what Jesus said and did--is that right? The apostles didn't add anything to what Jesus said and did in his life, did they?
    – Ashpenaz
    Dec 5, 2023 at 4:07
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    If what you said were true on its face, my comment wouldn't be relevant, now would it? Why would I state what I did if what you had in your question was correct?
    – eques
    Dec 5, 2023 at 16:42
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    Not quite. That is why I initially pointed out the traditional definition of the end of public revelation is the death of the last apostle (John). That implies it is not at the Ascension. What might be the source of any revelation between the Ascension and the death of the last Apostle? Who did Christ promise to send after He ascended?
    – eques
    Dec 6, 2023 at 2:12
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    From which tradition are you seeking an answer? Western orthodoxy, eastern, reformed theology...? Feb 5 at 21:51

3 Answers 3


In fact, the answer attributes the premise of the concept of faith. In other words, it makes us think that the dogmas of the "Deposit of faith", which has a Roman tradition, do not hold the aegis of the divine proposal of reconciliation with God. If the origin of the word emunah is trust, and knowledge of God, which leads us to have confidence (faith), then only with reconciliation with individual God will we establish this bond. Since the "Deposit of faith" consists of the Roman Church holding the dogmas of faith, and the bond between humanity and God, we understand that these deposits begin to be the property of the church, and what the church establishes becomes the absolute truth. However, we know that since the rise of the pseudo-Christian Church, in the first 4 centuries, it has fought the primitive church called "The Way". Later after 320 with Constantine and 397 when Pope Innocent I, who sought the unification of the Western Church around "Roman praxis", establishing the observance of Roman rites in the West, the catalog of canonical books and monastic rules. Theologians claim that he fought the supposed heresies of the Pelagius of Britannia, which were actually principles and foundations of the Jewish religion and faith in the messiah. From them emerged the Protestant Anglican church. And also the King James Bible. See in summary, ("Deposit of Faith" is the truth of God's Revelation expressed in Sacred Scripture, which is the Word of God inspired and written, and in Sacred Tradition (whose tradition?), which is the Word of God taught and transmitted through the teaching authority of the Roman Church(?)). The problem with this statement is precisely the issue of the sacred scriptures, as the same sacred scripture condemns graven images, prohibits their worship and establishes and sanctifies Saturday as a holy day. See that, to answer your question clearly, many dogmas of the Roman church fall before the scripture itself. And this, of course, is complicated even today.


OP: The Deposit of Faith is limited to the words and actions of Jesus' historical life--is that correct?

Sort of, but only is so far as Jesus told the apostles that He will send the Spirit, the Comforter, who will also teach them the truth. To be clear, this is not a promise to disciples who were not eyewitnesses, but who believed their writings later.

But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: John 15:26

One other thing, while Jesus walked and talked with His disciples, it is not as if they comprehended all that was prophesied of Him, all that He actually did. At the cross, they were all scattered. After His resurrection, He opened the scriptures to the two on the road to Emmaus. After ascension, He sent the Spirit.

OP: Only those things that He taught to his disciples and commanded them to pass on to others can be considered part of the Deposit of Faith--is that correct?

Sort of, the deposit of faith would also include what is written in the New Testament. It would not include oral teachings, assumptions, and other pious ideas developed centuries later.

Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. Jude 1:3

Contend is in the present tense, about the faith here and now. It's not an instruction about believing pious opinions developed later by someone in authority.

And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. John 20:30-31

The deposit of faith was delivered once for all.

OP: There were no additions to the Deposit of Faith after Jesus' ascension--is that correct? After the Ascension, all we can is interpret the Deposit of Faith since public revelation has finished and there is no more revelation to come--is that correct? Those sound like different questions, but it's hard to put the whole question into one sentence! :)

Correct. Although some try to add/subtract from the "it is written", there are no additions to the deposit of faith. To be clear, it covers the period of Jesus' life and sending of the Spirit to His apostles. It thus is only those things written between the first and last apostles to die who are James and John sons of Zebedee, renamed sons of thunder (as in God spoke, Job 40:9, Ps 29:3, etc).

To say otherwise is to assert the apostles forgot to write something necessary to our salvation. Worse, it is to blaspheme the Spirit who forgot to let them know.


What are the limits of the Deposit of Faith?

The “Deposit of Faith” is not only limited to the words of Jesus Christ during his life, but also to the teachings of the death of the last Apostle.

Public revelation ends with the death of the last Apostle, and that is considered part of Deposit of Faith.

The deposit of faith (depositum fidei or fidei depositum) is the body of revealed truth in the scriptures and sacred tradition proposed by the Roman Catholic Church for the belief of the faithful.

Catholic usage

The "sacred deposit" of the faith (depositum fidei) refers to the teachings of the Catholic Church that are believed to be handed down since the time of the Apostles – namely scripture and sacred tradition. St. Paul uses the Greek word paratheke ("deposit") in 1 Timothy 6:20: "O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you"; and again in 2 Timothy 1:14 "Guard this rich trust with the help of the holy Spirit that dwells within us" (NAB).

According to Dei Verbum, "Sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture form one sacred deposit of the word of God, committed to the Church [...] both of them, flowing from the same divine wellspring, in a certain way merge into a unity and tend toward the same end."

They are interpreted and transmitted through the magisterium, the teaching authority of the Catholic Church, which is entrusted to the pope and to the bishops in communion with him.3 On the occasion of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Pope John Paul II issued the apostolic constitution Fidei depositum, in which he said: "Guarding the deposit of faith is the mission which the Lord has entrusted to his Church and which she fulfils in every age."

According to Catholic theology, divine revelation ended with the death of the last apostle, John. The development of doctrine does not add to this revelation, nor does it increase the deposit of faith, but it increases the understanding of it. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: "Even if the Revelation is already complete, it has not been made fully explicit; it remains for Christian faith gradually to grasp its full significance over the course of the centuries". - Deposit of Faith

Apostolic Tradition of the Apostles aided the Church before the Biblical Canon was established.

Now, let us clarify a few terms.

What is Sacred Tradition and how does this differ from other Church traditions?

Catholic maintain that 2 Thessalonians 2:15, upholds this stance or appeal to Sacred Tradition: "Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle."

The word tradition is taken from the Latin trado, tradere, meaning "to hand over, to deliver, to bequeath". According to Catholic theology, the Apostle St. Paul exhorted the faithful to "stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by our letter." The Pauline Epistles form part of Sacred Scripture; what he passed on by "word of mouth" is part of sacred tradition, handed down from the apostles. Both are the inspired word of God; the latter helps to inform understanding of the former. Sacred tradition can never be in conflict with sacred scripture.

There are differences between Sacred Tradition and other Catholic traditions. At times, the early Tradition before the written New Testament is called “Apostolic Tradition”.

To begin, it is important to note that Sacred Tradition is not the same as what we commonly understand by the word "tradition." We need to distinguish between the terms "tradition" spelled with a lower case "t" and Tradition" spelled with a capital "T." When we spell the word tradition with a lower case letter, we are referring to those things that are more often referred to as "traditions" and have a meaning closer to the word "practices” which are not part of Divine Revelation itself, but are pious customs that have arisen later in the history of the Church (CCC 2651). Examples of traditions include praying the Rosary or the Divine Mercy Chaplet, devotions to favorite saints, making the sign of the cross and the like.

When Tradition is capitalized in this context, it refers to Sacred Tradition. The word tradition comes from the Latin word tradere which means "to hand on." Sacred Tradition is the Scripture as it is lived out in the Church. It is nevertheless the Word of God. Specifically, it is the Word of God that the prophets and the Apostles received through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. This message which they received was "handed on" to the Christian world by the Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

The concept of Tradition has been a difficult, confusing and divisive one ever since the Protestant Reformation. For this reason, it is helpful to break down the concept piecemeal. First, tradition is a “what”—the content of the gospel proclamation given first by Jesus Christ and subsequently by the apostles, in terms of their oral preaching and teaching (2 Thess 2:15; Matt 28:19-20) and in terms of their writing (CCC 75-76). Sometimes the early Tradition before the written New Testament is called “Apostolic Tradition” (CCC 83). Those who wrote about the Christ event in the New Testament did so under the special inspiration of the Holy Spirit, "the Spirit of Truth," who is the sacred Author of the Scripture. These inspired writings came into existence within a definite Tradition, a living context of faith. Some elements of Tradition were based in the sayings and deeds of Jesus Christ, especially his death and resurrection. Other elements were not revealed directly by Jesus, but rather at the prompting of the Holy Spirit which he sent:

"I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. (John 16:12-15)

What is Sacred Tradition

The Bible as we have it now, does not tell us which books are inspired. For the Church, this required spiritual discernment. The assembling of all the canonical books of the New Testament was a lengthy process, not completed until the end of the fourth century, with the Council of Rome under Pope Damasus I in 382 A.D.

Among the earliest examples of the theological appeal to tradition is the response of early orthodox Christianity to Gnosticism, a movement that used some Christian scripture as the basis for its teachings. Irenaeus of Lyons held that “rule of faith” is preserved by the Church through its historical continuity (of interpretation and teaching) with the Apostles. Tertullian argued that although interpretations founded on a reading of all Holy Scripture are not prone to error, Tradition is the proper guide. Athanasius held that Arianism fell into error primarily by not adhering to to this Tradition.

In a Catholic perspective, not everything is written in the Sacred Scriptures. This is evident by the writings of both St. Paul and St. John:

15 So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.

16 May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, 17 encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word. - 2 Thessalonians 2:15-17

29 Jesus saith to him: Because thou hast seen me, Thomas, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and have believed. 30 Many other signs also did Jesus in the sight of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31 But these are written, that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God: and that believing, you may have life in his name. - [John 20: 29-31

23 This saying therefore went abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die. And Jesus did not say to him: He should not die; but, So I will have him to remain till I come, what is it to thee? 24 This is that disciple who giveth testimony of these things, and hath written these things; and we know that his testimony is true. 25 But there are also many other things which Jesus did; which, if they were written every one, the world itself, I think, would not be able to contain the books that should be written. - John 21: 23-25

The New Testament, while being the primary source for all that God revealed in Christ, is itself a product of Tradition. Tradition is a living and active process which the Church experiences from one age to the next while meditating on the Word of God and the events of salvation history. The Holy Spirit guides the Church in this process and guarantees that Tradition will be an authentic expression of God’s Word for each generation. After the writing of the New Testament, subsequent generations could reflect not only on Jesus’ teaching but also on that privileged experience of first generation Christians who knew Jesus when he walked the earth.

The Church in each generation, through prayer, study, and contemplation, reflects on God’s Word in Scripture and gives new interpretation to it while never altering the Revelation it contains. In every generation, she expresses anew the Word of God against an ever changing landscape of human society and culture. The diversity of devotions and styles of worship is beautiful and expresses the Church’s catholicity or universality. But these various local traditions are not what we mean when we speak of Tradition. As times change and in light of Tradition, these religious customs and practices may be changed or discarded. Sacred Tradition does not change. It is expressed differently from one age to the next but is always consistent with the truth of God’s Revelation.

The following articles may be of interest to some.

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    Thanks for the comprehensive answer! But I'm still left with the question: Could the apostles, in the process of passing on the teachings of Jesus by means of Tradition, add new teachings to that Tradition? Could an apostle add something Jesus didn't do or teach to Tradition? In which case, did God not reveal all of Himself in Jesus? Did He need to add to His Incarnation by giving extra teachings to the Apostles?
    – Ashpenaz
    Dec 7, 2023 at 15:14

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